Early help services

One minute guides

What is the Edge of Care Service?

The Edge of Care team work intensively with families where there is a risk of the child or young person entering care or custody. The service will also support children currently in care and their families, where there is an identified plan for the child to return home. The specialist team are dedicated to supporting families to stay together when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

What does the Edge of Care Service involve?

The Edge of Care service will work with children and young people aged 10 to 18 years and their families. The service is voluntary, children, young people and their parents do not have to engage with the support even if this is recommended. 

The Edge of Care Family Intervention workers hold a small caseload of children, young people and families alongside their allocated Social Worker. Home visits will be undertaken with families at a frequency which is identified as most likely to meet their needs.

The Family Intervention Workers will work intensively and flexibly with families open to the service over a 3 to 6 month period. This is to co-ordinate and deliver targeted support which aims to address whole family difficulties, prevent escalation and result in better outcomes for each child and young person. The support plans will be reviewed with the family and multi-agency network on a monthly basis. 

The team is made up of passionate and dedicated multi-agency practitioners. They practice using a restorative, relational approach, ensuring that families are fully supported to make the changes needed to care for their children and to prevent their entry into the care system.

What key themes does the Edge of Care Service focus on?

Children ‘on the Edge of Care’ are those whose safety and well-being are at sufficient risk for the authority to consider removing them from their current situation. This is for their own protection and those where parents are requesting voluntary accommodation. 

Children on the Edge of Care typically include those children:

  • at risk of out-of-home placement due to parental abuse or neglect
  • who are in high conflict with their families and are difficult for their parents to manage or keep safe
  • whose parents suffer from poor mental health, a severe disability or substance misuse
  • who have offended or are at serious risk of offending (e.g. children excluded from school)
  • who have previously been looked after, or those who come from families where their elder siblings are looked after.
  • at risk of exploitation

Why do we have the Edge of Care Service?

The number of children looked after continues to increase; it has increased steadily over the last nine years. As at 31 March 2017 there were 72,670 children looked after, an increase of 3% from 2016.

The proportion of children looked after has increased by 10% in each of the past three years in Swindon. It is higher than the proportion in both similar authorities and the national average.

Adolescents remain the largest group amongst those looked after and becoming looked after. Swindon also has a higher percentage than statistical neighbours of children becoming looked after with agreement of their parents.

We know that children’s needs are best served in their own families if this can be safely supported. One in four adolescent entrants to care – almost 3,000 young people a year – are looked after for less than eight weeks, a large, expensive and often unplanned respite service. These adolescent entrants to the system tend to experience a larger number of placements, a more disrupted experience of care and poorer outcomes in education.

What do we have in Swindon and who are the key contacts?

Edge of Care - In keeping families together, it is important that referrals focus on meeting the needs of families before they are in crisis. Therefore, there is a requirement for professionals to be sufficiently skilled to identify children on the edge of care and to refer to the edge of care service as early as possible. This is with the aim of de-escalating the risk of the child becoming looked after.

Referral to the edge of care service will be made by children’s social care using an up to date statutory assessment, full and up to date case chronology and genogram.

Edge of Custody - In reducing the risk of young people being remanded and/or sentenced to custody, it is of importance that a proactive and preventative approach is applied. This is important when working with young people known to the justice system and their families.

Referrals to the edge of care service will be made by the Youth Justice Team. They use an up to date Asset assessment when the young person has been sentenced to a Youth Rehabilitation Order and/or Intensive Supervision and Surveillance. This is when they have a high likelihood of re-offending based on their Youth Offender Group Reconviction Score. A genogram and if accessible a full and up to date case chronology will be required.

Reunification - Evidence clearly indicates that children and young people who have returned from care are at increased risk of re-entering care. All children returning home, or are to live with their extended family members, should be referred to the edge of care service for reunification support.

In order to refer to the edge of care service, agreement will be required at team manager level before the referral is submitted. The edge of care team manager will then review all referrals and discuss any potential concerns regarding suitability at the weekly Care Panel.

If you want to discuss a referral or find out more about the above Service please call the Team Manager on 07584 594100 or email edgeofcare@swindon.gov.uk

What is the Education Welfare Service (EWS)?

The Education Welfare Service is a statutory service which also works with a number of schools through a traded services model. 

The service works closely with schools, parents/care giver, and with children and young people who are experiencing difficulties in attending school.   

The service will provide support and advice to families regarding; attendance issues; the law; how to apply for a school place; exclusions; and school related matters. Also, child employment and the law; issue work permits: issue performance licenses: issue Chaperone licenses. 

The traded offer to schools include individual case work; attendance surgeries; attendance audits and termly supervision for attendance officers. It also includes advising on school coding; leading or supporting on ‘team around the child/family meetings and legal case discussions.

The statutory function of the service includes:

  • issue of warning letters for non-school attendance
  • issue of Legal warning letters for non-school attendance
  • processing Fixed Penalty Notice Fines (FPN)
  • supporting the legal process through to court for unpaid fines, and aggravated offences of none school attendance
  • school attendance orders (SAO)
  • education supervision orders (ESO)
  • parenting orders issued by the courts
  • tracking Children Missing Education (CME)
  • monitoring Elective Home Education (EHE)
  • issuing and monitoring child work permits
  • issuing of child performance licences
  • issuing of chaperone licences 

The Education Welfare Service will offer advice and guidance on attendance matters to families and professionals and will sign post as required.

What does the Education Welfare Service involve?

Parents can make direct contact with the EWS on education related matters and request support, advice or signposting. An Education Welfare Officer will assess the course of action depending on the needs of the child, young person and family. 

Schools will receive a bespoke service tailored specifically to meet the needs of individual schools as part of the traded service. Schools who do not trade with the EWS can contact the service for guidance but will not receive an allocated EWO.

Professionals can seek advice and guidance from the Education Welfare Service in relation to attendance matters, children missing education, children who are educated at home, child employment.

What key themes does the Education Welfare Service focus on?

  • Attendance Matters
  • Poor attendance
  • Children who are Missing Education (CME)
  • Welfare of children and young people who are employed, or are child performers
  • Safeguarding

Why do we have Education Welfare Services?

To carry out the statutory duties on behalf of the local authority in relation to:

  • school attendance
  • providing legal duties in relation to non-school attendance
  • tracking Children Missing Education
  • monitoring Elective Home Education
  • issuing Child work permits and Performance Licences
  • issuing Chaperone licences
  • ensuring children of compulsory school age are receiving a suitable education according to their needs either by regular attendance at school or otherwise
  • supporting families in understanding the importance of good and regular attendance at school and to assist them in removing barriers that prevent this for their children
  • improving attendance and attainment for children and young people in Swindon
  • helping safeguard children and young especially those who may be more vulnerable due to poor/none school attendance

What do we have in Swindon and who are the key contacts?

We have a dedicated EWS covering all areas of Swindon. If you have any queries or concerns please contact the service via email:

For general enquiries or to speak with an Education Welfare Officer call 01793 465778.

What is a Restorative Conference?

A Restorative Conference is a process that brings people together and allows them to discuss difficulties within their relationships that are having an impact on them and their children. The focus is on the future and reaching agreements that support healthier relationships by making a plan for change.

What does a Restorative Conference involve?

The service is voluntary; children, young people and their parents do not have to engage with the support when recommended.

The Family Group Conference Coordinator will visit the participants of the Restorative Conference prior to undertaking the meeting.

The process:

  • STEP 1 - Meet with your coordinator to prepare for your meeting. Discuss what has happened, who it has affected and what needs to happen now?
  • STEP 2 – Restorative Conference meeting. Brings everyone together to share their views, resolve issues and make a Plan for Change
  • STEP 3 – A review will be offered to check on the progress of the plan

What key themes does a Restorative Conference focus on?

The ethos around Restorative Conferencing is ‘repairing harm’. The theory behind this style of mediation is that a person can dispute facts, but they cannot dispute how something has made someone feel. Emphasis is around listening, in the hope that this can provide answers as to why a person has acted the way they have.

This style of conferencing is born out of restorative justice, but the distinct difference is that our clients are not strangers (victim/perpetrator) but in fact have established relationships with one another.

Why do we offer Restorative Conferences?

Referrals can cover a wide range of concerns including:

  • unresolved contact arrangements
  • placement breakdown
  • impact of domestic abuse
  • historic family conflict
  • relationship repair being YP/children and their parents/carers
  • safety plans

They can also be utilised prior to a Family Group Conference to resolve conflict. This can enable families to come together effectively to make safe and viable plans for their children.

What do we have in Swindon and who are the key contacts?

The Restorative Conference service sits within the Family Group Conference Service. In Swindon, the Family Group Conference Team consists of a Family Group Conferencing Manager, 5 Family Group Conferencing Coordinators, as well as an Independent Advocate.

If you want to discuss a referral or find out more about a Restorative Conference please call the Family Group Conferencing Manager on 07823 525264 or email: fgcservice@swindon.gov.uk.

What is the Family Group Conferencing Service?

A Family Group Conference is a process led by family members to plan and make decisions for a child or children who are at risk. Children and young people are normally involved in their own Family Group Conference, although often with support from an advocate. It is a voluntary process and families cannot be forced to have a Family Group Conference. The specialist team are dedicated to empowering families to stay together, and to come up with their own solutions on how to do this, when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

What does the Family Group Conference Service involve?

Families, including extended family members are assisted by an independent Family Group Conference Coordinator to prepare for the meeting. At the first part of the meeting, social workers and other professionals set out their concerns and discuss what support could be made available. In the second part of the meeting, family members then meet on their own, to make a plan for the child. The family plan will be agreed by the professional providing it is a safe and viable plan.

The service is voluntary; children, young people and their parents do not have to engage with the support when recommended.

The Family Group Conference Coordinator will visit the participants of the Family Group Conference prior to undertaking the meeting. A Family Group Conference review will be offered to the family 3 months after their Family Group Conference.

What key themes does the Family Group Conference Service focus on?

Family Group Conferences can be used in any situation where a plan and decision needs to be made about a vulnerable child. In Swindon, Family Group Conferences are requested via the Early Help Hub or Family Service where a lead professional is working with the family or via Social Care, particularly when a child is at risk of going into care.

Why do we have the Family Group Conference Service?

The Family Group Conference approach originated in New Zealand. Family Group Conferences are now used in over 20 countries in the world. Family Rights Group led the introduction of Family Group Conferences in England and Wales, and runs the National Family Group Conference Network.

What is the evidence that Family Group Conferences work?

Family Group Conferences are effective in making safe plans for children, enabling many to stay within their family network as an alternative to going into care and are cost effective.

What do we have in Swindon and who are the key contacts?

In Swindon, the Family Group Conferencing Team is made up of a Family Group Conferencing Manager and 6 Family Group Conferencing Coordinators, as well as an Independent Advocate.

If you want to discuss a referral or find out more about the Family Group Conferencing Service please call the Family Group Conferencing Manager on 07823 525264 or email: fgcservice@swindon.gov.uk

What is Family Nurse Partnership? 

Family nurse partnership is a voluntary, preventative, home visiting programme for first-time young mums and families. It offers intensive and structured home visiting, delivered by specialist nurses, from early pregnancy until their child reaches two years old. 

It is designed to help parents have a healthy pregnancy, improve their child’s health and development, plan their own futures and achieve their aspirations. 

FNP has three aims: to improve pregnancy outcomes, improve child health and development and improve parents’ economic self-sufficiency. 

FNP, through strong and rigorous evidence benefits the most vulnerable young families in Swindon in the short, medium and long term across a wide range of outcomes helping improve social mobility and breaking the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage.

What does Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) involve? 

The programme offers a schedule of structured home visits which can be weekly, fortnightly or monthly and which last between one and one and a half hours. Nurses are guided in their work through detailed visit-by-visit guidelines that reflect the challenges parents are likely to encounter during pregnancy and the first two years of their child’s life. Within this framework nurses use their professional judgement to address those areas where needs are greatest. 

The FNP model draws from three distinct strands of theory: human ecology, self-efficacy and attachment. These theoretical strands, woven together within a professional nursing framework, produce a unique preventive programme of great depth, breadth and vitality. 

FNP has a specific way of working with the most vulnerable families, taking advantage of an expectant mother’s intrinsic motivation to do the best for her child and working to develop and expand the strengths within a family to promote change.

What key themes does the Family Nurse Partnership focus on?  

  • Trauma informed practice  
  • Mental health work
  • Attachment    
  • Family work
  • Healthy relationships    
  • Smoking
  • Domestic abuse    
  • Breast feeding
  • Child development/child health (Healthy child programme)    
  • Self-efficacy

Why do we have FNP? 

To ensure young parents in Swindon have a specialist service that supports their needs when having their first child.

What do we have in Swindon and who are the key contacts? 

Referral criteria:

  • First child and under 18 at conception
  • Under 20 with additional vulnerabilities
  • Under 25 if a care leaver 

Most referrals come directly from Midwifery however, referrals can also come directly into Family Nurse Partnership on 01793 466767.

What is Be U Swindon?

Be U Swindon is part of the Early Help Service in the Children, Families and Community Health directorate in Swindon Borough Council.

Be U Swindon provides the single point of access and triage process for all children’s mental health services in Swindon. This is done jointly with the local provider of specialist CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service); Followed by assessment and intervention packages for those identified needing Advice or Early help (Be U Swindon) help. 

What does Be U Swindon involve? 

The Be U Swindon workforce are from a variety of professional backgrounds, with a variety of professional qualifications and experiences:

  • Qualified Mental Health Nurses (RMN)
  • Qualified Children’s and Adult Nurses (RGN)
  • Experienced Early Years Workers
  • Experienced Family Support Workers (Family Links Programme Leads) 
  • Qualified therapists
  • Qualified counsellors
  • Qualified Education Mental Health Practitioners 

Be U Swindon are part of the Early Help workforce and sit within the integrated locality teams which include Health Visitors, Youth Engagement Workers, Education Welfare Officers, Targeted Mental Health Workers, Speech & Language Therapists and Educational Psychologists, working alongside children’s social work teams.

What key themes does Be U Swindon focus on?

Referrals and screening

Receives referrals from General Practitioners, Paediatricians, School Nurses, Health Visitors, and Social Workers (this is not an exhaustive list). Referrals are screened daily and children are offered either a single agency assessment with Be U Swindon or a joint assessment with CAMHS.  If an assessment is not required then Be U Swindon will signpost to other services, refer on to Community Paediatricians via the ASD/ADHD pathway, and to parenting support programmes (Family Links).

All single point of access referrals (referrals for both Be U Swindon and CAMHS) are screened, with a clinical practitioner from each service working together to review the child’s information and history and to agree a plan.

On Trak Youth Counselling, and LD CAMHS, are also part of the joint screening process on a weekly basis.  A Single Point of Access Support Officer has been appointed. The role of the post holder is to develop and embed efficient and effective processes to support the work of the single point of access team. 


Be U Swindon offer on average 10 assessment sessions per day, two days a week, equating to 20 assessments per week. Joint screening (as outlined above) with CAMHS, ensures that referrals to CAMHS are not held up in the Be U Swindon waiting list. 


Individual sessions are offered to children following assessment using CBT based therapies and solution focussed therapies. These sessions offer support to manage anxiety, self-harm, improve self-esteem, addressing eating issues & low-level eating disorders

The service also runs the accredited Family Links Nurture Programme for parents. All staff who run these have successfully completed the specialist three-day training course. The 10-week programme, runs over a school term, and to meet parents’ needs, they are offered the choice of a morning or evening group. More recently, the service has started running the “Talking Teens programme”, which is a 4-week programme for parents of teenagers.

Mental Health Teams in Schools Service

Be U Swindon also provides support to Schools as part of the national Mental Health Support Teams in schools programme (MHST). This includes individual or group support for children/young people, staff and/or parents/carers.

Be U Swindon will also attend multi-agency meetings for young people open to their service where it is appropriate to do so, ensuring all people involved in supporting the child/young person work well together.

The Sandbox

The Sandbox offers a wide range of evidence-based therapeutic interventions, including early self-help resources, forums, blogs, videos, and engaging games that encourage mild Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques.  It provides access to qualified and experienced Counsellors through live chat and one-on-one interactions.  The service offers resources tailored to various age groups and includes a wealth of resources for parents, teachers and other professionals. 

Key contacts

Telephone: 01793 781 484
E-mail: Beu.swindon@nhs.net
Website: www.beuswindon.co.uk

What is the School Nursing Service? 

The School Nursing Service works together with children and young people, their parents/carers and school staff to provide a comprehensive efficient and accessible service. They work closely with education, social care and other health professionals, to help children and young people to remain healthy and to ensure that any health needs are met. 

When a child commences school at the age of five, care is transferred from the Health Visiting Service to the School Nursing Service. 

What does the School Nursing Service involve? 

The School Nursing Service team consists Registered General Nurses and school health screeners who have received additional training in many areas of practice such as child development, safeguarding and family work.

Many of the team are also degree level nurses with all team leaders qualified as ‘Specialist Community Public Health Nurses’.

School Nurses work within the ‘Children, Families and Community Health Services within Swindon Borough Council.

School Nurses are part of the ‘Early Help’ workforce and sit within the integrated locality teams which include Health Visitors, Youth Engagement Workers, Education Welfare Officers, Targeted Mental Health Workers, Speech & Language Therapists and Educational Psychologists, working alongside children’s social work teams.

What key themes does the School Nursing Service focus on?

Core work for School nursing in Swindon is based on ‘The Healthy Child Programme’ (NHS), local and national health directives for children and young people.

All schools and academies are offered free delivery of core services which are as follows:

  • Transition discussions with Health Visitor & Reception Class teachers for children starting school with ongoing health needs
  • Vision screening for all reception children and feedback to parents by School Health Screeners
  • Hearing screening for all reception children and feedback to parents by School Health Screeners
  • Individual Health Care Plans for children requiring health care or medication during the school day
  • School staff training re: relevant medical conditions and how to support children in school
  • Height and weight screening for all reception pupils as part of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), and feedback to parents by School Health Screeners.
  • Height and weight screening for all year 6 pupils as part of the NCMP and feedback to parents, by School Health Screeners
  • Individual assessment and support for families following NCMP results that identify a child as obese or underweight.
  • Senior School – Nurse led Clinics (referrals can be made by teachers; other professionals, parents & students.)
  • Sexual health services including pregnancy testing, emergency contraception and condom distribution.
  • Early help support – including early help assessments and plans
  • Targeted one to one or family work as required
  • Enuresis / Encopresis assessments and on-going support following Great Western Hospital care pathway, and working with specialist nurse.
  • Safeguarding at all levels.

Why do we have the School Nursing Service? 

School Nurses are able to work closely with children, parents and school staff to ensure children receive the health support they require whilst at school.

Routine screening programmes ensure that appropriate referrals can be made for vision, hearing and height and weight as required.

What do we have in Swindon and who are the key contacts? 

School Nurses are based within the four Swindon Localities. Each locality team is managed by a Team leader who maintains responsibility for triaging and allocating all requests for service.

The service is delivered predominantly during term time within the school setting.

Key contacts

Central North Locality,
The Meadow

Telephone: 01793 466174
E-mail: SNCN@swindon.gov.uk

North Locality
Palm Tree Lodge

Telephone: 01793 466176
E-mail: SNN@swindon.gov.uk

Central South Locality
Reuban George

Telephone: 01793 466176 
E-mail: SNCS@swindon.gov.uk

South Locality
Saltway Centre

Telephone: 01793 466169
E-mail: SNS@swindon.gov.uk

What is Swindon Health Visiting Service?

A team of health visitors, who are registered nurses or midwives who have a specialised qualification in public health and the care and development of preschool children.

What does the Swindon Health Visiting Service involve?

The Health visiting service delivers the Healthy Child Programme, which involves contacts for parents and children from 28 weeks gestation of pregnancy until the child goes to school. These contacts review health, wellbeing and child development. They are also an opportunity to share key health promotion and accident prevention advice. 

The health visiting service offers parents support and advice around key childhood issues such as infant feeding, sleep management, promoting positive behaviour, toilet training and accident prevention within the home.

What key themes does the Health Visiting Service focus on? 

  • Healthy child programme
  • Child health, development and wellbeing
  • Bonding with your baby
  • Infant feeding, including breast feeding support
  • Support for postnatal depression
  • Support for key childhood issues; sleep, behaviour management, toilet training, accident prevention.

Why do we have the Health Visiting Service? 

We have Health visitors to promote early health and development for children. Early health advice and identification of needs promotes better health and development outcomes for children entering school and later in life.

What do we have in Swindon and who are the key contacts? 

Swindon's Health Visiting Service, signposts parents to local resources, has details of local child health hubs.

Telephone: 01793 465050 or 07919 408395
E-mail: CentralNorthLocalityIntegratedBST@swindon.gov.uk

What is New Beginnings 

New Beginnings is a voluntary service offered to women (and their partners) in Swindon who have had at least one child removed from their care.

New Beginnings supports and empowers women to identify, make and sustain positive changes to their lives. Evidence from similar services in other parts of the country (for example PAUSE) , proves that these changes made when the woman is ready and identified by her, can ultimately  break the cycle of recurrent removal. This therefore enhances the potential long-term life outcomes for the woman.

The aim is to build a sense of self-worth, esteem and value in women whose life experiences may have prevented this and resulted in a spiral of self-harm and or destruction.

Referrals to New Beginnings are made by a professional who is, or has worked, with the woman prior to, at the time of or after the child is removed. New Beginnings cannot work with women who still have children in their care, are pregnant before the referral, or who live outside Swindon. There are no age limits and no restrictions on the length of time since the child/ren were removed.  

What does New Beginnings involve?

New Beginnings workers tailor the programme to meet the individual needs of each woman.

 Each woman is allocated to a New Beginnings worker who will work with them for up to eighteen months depending on their level of need.

The work involves building a mutually trusting, respectful and honest relationship which is a partnership and led by the aspirations of the woman. The worker will meet regularly with the woman and as often as she needs.

Most sessions are delivered as one to one in a location and at a time that is most convenient for the woman and where she feels comfortable. There are monthly group sessions where the women are invited to come together and spend a couple of hours doing an activity which is enjoyable to them, for example cooking, craft hand massage and nail painting. These groups are designed carefully not only to offer peer support and understanding, but also to give the women a break – time out - from the stress and chaos of their daily life.

New Beginnings work collaboratively with all partner agencies who are or could support the woman. We support the women to consider and make healthy choices around physical, mental, emotional and sexual health. New Beginnings sign post and support the women to attend appointments.

What key themes does New Beginnings focus on? 

  • Domestic abuse
  • Housing
  • Housing, debt and money management
  • Education and employment
  • Healthy relationships
  • Addressing alcohol and substance misuse
  • Accessing support, counselling, therapy
  • Good holistic health – physical, emotional and sexual
  • Anything relevant to the woman

Why do we have New Beginnings?

The needs of the women referred to the service are complex and individual, a generic service could not adequately meet their needs.

Usually once a child is removed from the mother’s care all support will follow the child. This often leaves the mother vulnerable at a time when she is emotionally at her least resilient.  Her lifestyle may well become chaotic, possibly toxic and spiral downwards.

New Beginnings workers tailor the programme to meet the individual needs of each woman to redress this. The trauma informed work is delivered sensitively and without judgement to build self-esteem and empower women to change.

New Beginnings works in a collaborative way with partner agencies to meet the individual needs of the women and effect positive change.  

What do we have in Swindon and who are the key contacts?

New Beginnings is part of The Family Service. Referrals can be made or discussed by email at: newbeginnings@swindon.gov.uk or call 01793 465111.

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